The new California Senate leader prioritizes climate change, homelessness, and opioids.(Part-1)

Sacramento — On Monday, California Sen. Mike McGuire will become Senate leader, marking the first time in decades that the state's top two legislative leaders are not from a large urban area.

McGuire believes the 39 million residents of the state relate to rural districts like his's childhood poverty, drug addiction, and housing constraints. McGuire remarked in a recent interview that "Everything that I just mentioned are concerns of Californians in Eureka and Los Angeles."

McGuire, 44, was initially elected to the Healdsburg school board in 1998; his family farms prunes. After being elected to the state Senate in 2014, he has introduced legislation to preserve marine life, help cannabis growers, improve mobile coverage during power outages, and combat wildfires, a local concern.

The Democrat represents the area north of the Golden Gate Bridge to Oregon. San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins, who just declared her 2026 governorship run, would be succeeded by McGuire.

As Senate pro tem, McGuire will be one of California's most influential legislators, deciding which bills pass and appointing members to critical committees. After two years as Senate leader, he will leave office in 2026.

McGuire will collaborate with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Assembly on the state budget. He must reconcile his caucus' ambitious initiatives, such state Sen. Steven Bradford of Los Angeles' measure to create an organization to aid Black families trace their family heritage, with the state's estimated $38 billion budget shortfall.

He'll lead with rural central coast Democrat Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas. McGuire was raised by farmers, but Rivas was the grandson of farmhands. In June, Rivas was sworn into his leadership role. He met McGuire during a 2010 California State Association of Counties seminar for incoming supervisors, where McGuire represented Sonoma County and Rivas represented San Benito County.

We share many priorities and experiences,” Rivas remarked. Despite their rural backgrounds, the two politicians continue to promote themselves as leaders who would support state-wide objectives like housing, education, and climate.